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The Candid Progressive's Islam-Savvy Appraisal of the Unholy Mess in Syria

In its push for military action in Syria, the Obama administration is once again demonstrating a dangerous naiveté regarding Islam and the Muslim world.  Once again, our short-sighted, politically-correct “leaders” are taking the same blundering, uninformed approach we’ve witnessed ever since the attacks of September 11th, 2001.  Their failure to understand the core tenets of the Muslim religion (resulting from a policy of carefully ignoring any associations between jihadi violence and a religion considered holy by 3.5 billion easily-offended people), and their refusal to recognize Islam as a powerful motivator in the Muslim world, continues to cost us, in both lives and financial resources, with every misstep taken in the lands of the True Believers by the shapers of our foreign policy.  And, as things are currently shaping up, we’re about to hear that sickening ka-ching! once again.  

As a devout tree-hugger and green energy advocate, I voted for Obama, twice.  But I did so with serious reservations (especially the second time around), on account of his anti-gun stance and his desire to make nice with the Muslim world, at the expense of honesty and free speech and the long-term well-being of secular Western societies.  Also, I’m not sure he really gets that whole “democracy” thing.

And lately -- as a progressive who takes a more jaundiced view of the Religion of Peace than most of my fellow Lefties -- I’ve been watching with particular horror as Obama inches us closer and closer to the next foreign policy disaster.  We haven’t even gotten ourselves disentangled from our twelve-year misadventure in Afghanistan, or the decade-long Iraq debacle (both of which we’ll be paying on for a very long time), and we’re already preparing to embark upon the next one.  This is the sort of thing that occasionally overcomes my naturally sunny worldview and makes me think that perhaps we humans are just too stupid to survive.

However, in a Quixotic attempt to help derail this misguided project, I’ve composed a list of the Top Ten Reasons We Should Sit this One Out.  Here they are:

1)  In Syria, our enemies are fighting our enemies.  On one side, we’ve got the tyrant al-Assad, supported by Hezbollah and Iran -- and on the other, al Qaeda operatives and Muslim Brotherhood enthusiasts.  Al Qaeda is represented in Syria by ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria; and by a group called Jabhat al-Nusra, or “Victory Front”, which the U.S. State Department has listed as a  terrorist organization.  It’s true that the rebel forces represent a fairly broad spectrun of pissed-off Sunnis, with a  variety of political and social agendas, including some liberal secularists.  But it’s also true that, once the dust settles and the smoke clears, if the rebels win this fight, the hardcore Islamists are very likely to take charge in Syria, just as they’ve done, to varying degrees, in all of the countries “liberated” during the much-ballyhooed Arab Spring.  The kamikaze-like al Qaeda members are (unsurprisingly) said to be the most effective of the rebel fighters; and the Islamists are the most organized of the rebel factions.  If al-Assad is removed from power, the more liberal rebels and their secularist agendas will almost certainly be elbowed aside by the surly, bearded types with the Iron Age worldview.  One Jabhat al-Nusra leader told a CNN reporter that: “In the period after the regime falls, our main goal is to create an Islamic state that is ruled by the Koran.  It can have civilian institutions, but not democracy.  We look at the other Free Syrian Army rebels as one of many groups defending religion, so we support them.  In the future, we will handle this differently.”  (The cool, understated euphemism "we will handle this differently" sends chills down my spine, bringing to mind dungeons and gang rapes and rag-tag roving hit squads.)  Bottom line: along with many others, I’m having a hard time seeing the advantage in helping to depose a brutal secular dictator so that brutal theocratic thugs can replace him and begin the process of dragging Syria back into the Seventh Century.

2)  Islam is inherently hostile to democracy, free speech, women’s rights and other basic human rights.  Although many liberals refuse to see this, the evidence pouring in from around the world prove it to be so.  Therefore, having the True Believers fight amongst themselves makes us that much safer.  I realize it may seem rather cold-hearted and Republican-y to say that sort of thing, right out loud, in a public venue -- but, in the absence of a magic wand that can simply make all of our problems (and those of our enemies) vanish, it’s important to recognize this unfortunate truth.  In the War of Ideas currently raging between Islam and the civilized world, someone is going to lose.  And, that being the case, I would prefer to see the forces of freedom, human rights, reason and enlightenment prevail over those of barbarism, misogyny, ignorance and superstition.

3)  Thousands of eager Sunni Muslim jihadis are pouring into Syria from all over the world to fight al-Assad’s hated Alawite clan (a Shi’ite sect considered heretical by devout Sunnis).  Meanwhile, Hezbollah jihadis from Lebanon are coming to the aid of their fellow Shi’ites.  As long as these hardcore Allah junkies are busy fighting each other, they’re not attacking us.  Also, this reduces the number of potential terrorists, due to deaths on the battlefield in Syria.  This makes non-Muslims, around the world, considerably safer.  This, of course, is a tragic situation; but it’s a tragedy brought about by the violent, intolerant tenets of Islam, not by us.  No need for any mea culpas on our part here.  This one’s on the Prophet Muhammad, and on human gullibility.

4)  The civil war raging in Syria is, essentially, a religious war.  If Islam did not exist, or if Sunnis and Shi’ites didn’t invest so much energy in hating each other because of trivial theological differences, this war would not be taking place.  And, in the world of foreign affairs, there are few things quite as stupid as getting involved in a war motivated by ancient religious hatreds.  Religious civil wars tend to last longer and be much bloodier than conflicts motivated by temporal concerns.  Studies indicate that they’re also twice as likely to recur, and twice as deadly for non-combatants.  The situation in Syria brings to mind a quote from Jon Stewart of the Daily Show: “Religion -- it’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.”  In recent months, there have been countless shouts of “Allahu akbar!” in Syria, as that god-forsaken country goes up in flames.  The intense hatred between Sunnis and Alawites, and the cycle of violent retribution that are the natural result, would never have come about if not for the belief in crude religious fantasies that would embarrass a thoughtful ten-year-old.  

(BTW: I consider myself licensed to kill when it comes to criticizing and debunking the Muslim ideology, and any other religion based on a magic book -- having abandoned the Christian religion in which I was thoroughly indoctrinated as a child.  I’m not asking Muslims to do anything I haven’t done myself.  And we Methodists weren’t engaging in sectarian bloodbaths with the neighboring Baptists or Episcopalians. We weren’t enslaving our women, or murdering our own daughters for wearing short skirts or dating the wrong boys.  Muslims have even more to gain from jettisoning their Iron Age religion and embracing reason and humanity.)

5)  The more gung-ho rebels are not exhibiting good form, to put it mildly -- burning Christian churches, kidnapping women and children, gnawing on the hearts of their recently-deceased enemies, beheading enemy captives, etc., etc.  They’re not showing much in the way of self-restraint or basic human decency.  And the atrocities they’re committing make it hard to muster any enthusiasm for their cause.

6)  If the rebels win, Syria’s weaponry, including chemical weapons, could easily fall into the hands of al Qaeda.  In that scenario, it’s much more likely that those weapons would be turned against us and/or our allies.  We could see a rash of suicide bombers setting off chemical weapons in American and European cities for years to come.

7)  Before Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite clan came to power in Syria, under the leadership of his father, they were brutally oppressed by the Sunni majority, and forced to take refuge in remote mountainous areas.  And, in all likelihood, they will be oppressed again (if not massacred outright), if they lose this fight.  They’re fighting for their lives, and they know it.  This makes any sort of “successful” intervention seem pretty unlikely.  The deep-seated religious hatreds in Syria make it hard to imagine how this conflict could possibly end without a very high body count -- regardless of which side prevails.

8)  In theory, at least, Bashar al-Assad, like his father before him, is a liberal secularist reformer who wants to create equality between men and women, build schools that girls and women are encouraged to attend, and reduce the influence of Islam in government.  These days, most of his energies are focused on the Brutal Dictator business; but at least he started out his political career making some encouraging noises.  On the other hand, many of the rebels arrayed against him are Islamists who openly state their desire to see Sharia rule in Syria, which means turning that country into another Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia -- lands not known for their advancement of human rights or sanity.

9)  We simply can’t afford to engage in another military conflict -- especially one involving people (on both sides) who are less than friendly towards our society and our ideals.  We might save more lives by using that money somewhere else.  And we could use the money to save the lives of people who do not support an ideology opposed to democracy, human rights, and everything we stand for.  Limited resources need to be used as wisely as possible, while keeping the long-term welfare of progressive democratic societies in mind.  And the Greater Good is not served by expending scarce resources in the Muslim world, especially considering that we rarely, if ever, seem to win hearts & minds among the True Believers of Islam.

10)  This conflict could easily turn into World War III if we get involved.  Our intervention might cause Iran to openly declare war, and draw greater numbers of Shi’ites from Iraq and Lebanon to fight for al-Assad.  That could cause Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, and Jordan to jump into the fray, and things could quickly spiral out of control.  Complicating matters further, Russia is dead-set against any intervention by the U.S.  We’re going to feel really stupid if we help to spark a global conflagration, in which the religious hatreds between Sunnis and Shi’ites (along with anxieties over the control of oil reserves and oil tanker routes) lead to the deaths of millions of people, Muslims and infidels alike.  I suggest that we all take a deep breath at this point...look at the available evidence (without the distorting lens of political correctness), and make a conscious decision to NOT be stupid this time.

My simple, common-sense solution (which, of course, has zero chance of being adopted) is for Western nations to grant refugee status to any Syrians willing to abandon the brutal, warlike ideology of Islam and join us in the 21st Century.  We should welcome those enlightened former Muslims with open arms, and let Allah sort out the rest.  Again, I realize this sounds harsh -- especially considering the fact that innocent children are caught up in this mess.  But what are we gonna do?  Send Delta Force operators into the midst of a raging civil war, to “rescue” millions of Syrian children -- taking them from their insane parents at gunpoint?  

Unfortunately, we need to realize that we cannot fix all of the world’s problems.  And we can’t rescue all of the world’s children.  At least, not as long as Islam is loose in the world, turning human beings into mindless warriors for a savage, non-existent god.

I realize that my harsh appraisal of Islam will be very jarring to many of my fellow progressives.  It is based upon years of research.  Anyone interested in learning more is invited to visit my site: www.handbookforinfidels.com  --  which provides an honest assessment of Islam from the perspective of a progressive religious skeptic.

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